Canada is known for its sometimes harsh, cold winters, but that’s not the case everywhere. There are places in the vast country where mild winters are the norm and that means gardening can continue year round. Here are some suggestions on using evergreen shrubs to maintain a year round beauty.
The best time to plant evergreens
Although many plants do slip into dormancy where winters are mild, there are plenty of evergreen trees, and shrubs that will keep the garden vibrantly alive. In a mild-winter climate, autumn is the preferred planting season for evergreens large and small. When planted in the autumn, these plants will benefit from cool temperatures and winter rains. By the time warm weather returns the following summer, they are comfortably settled in with strong, deep roots established in the soil.
The elegance of evergreens
In addition to the coniferous evergreens that can be grown in colder parts of Canada, the mild winters of places like coastal British Columbia enable gardeners to enjoy a wide selection of broad-leaved evergreens. Their foliage adds to the palette of textures in the winter garden, but many also have attractive flowers or fruit. Here are some favourites:
- Rhododendrons are widely grown and their broad, dark-green leaves make a good backdrop for the seed heads of grasses that persist well into winter.
- Camellia come in many varieties and have smaller, lighter leaves. It will flower in winter and early spring.
- Both Japanese and English hollies brighten up the winter garden with their bright berries and often variegated foliage.
- The evergreen winter daphne fills the air with its heady fragrance from mid-winter onwards.
- Bearberry is one of the best evergreen ground covers, especially the variety ‘Vancouver Jade’. This forms a dense mat, is resistant to salt spray and is a good choice for coastal gardens.
- Dwarf boxwoods, evergreen azaleas, and other broadleaf evergreens thrive where winters are mild.
- Use needled evergreens, such as junipers or mugo pine, to create a similar effect.
The use of evergreens provides a richness and unique aspect to a garden. The fact it winters so well it is a great way to keep that garden vibrant through mild winters.